Latin America & Caribbean

Colombian miners trapped in flooded mine

Miners carry sandbags as they try to prevent a gold mine from flooding after it collapsed, near the area of El Saibo, in Riosucio, Caldas province May 13, 2015. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Rescuers tried to use sandbags to prevent the mine from flooding completely after it collapsed.

Rescue workers are trying to reach at least 15 miners trapped in a flooded gold mine in north-western Colombia.

The mine collapsed apparently due to flooding caused by drilling holes to extract the mineral.

Officials said some of the miners were trapped at a depth of around 17 metres (55 feet).

They said it may take three days to pump out enough water to reach the men, but the owner of the mine said they may already be dead.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Many of the miners had families who waited at the mine in Riosucio, Caldas province around 220 km (136miles) from Bogota.

Leonardo Mejia, the mine owner, told reporters that several miners had managed to escape when they realised something was wrong.

He said he feared the 15 missing miners were all dead.

The National Mining Agency (ANM) said local firefighters reported that gases in the deep, vertical tunnels had contributed to the cave-in.

Colombia is a major gold producer but more than half its mines are unregulated.

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